Senate investigating contact between CIA and “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmakers

Sen. Dianne Feinstein will examine the government's role in the "grossly inaccurate" film

Topics: Zero Dark Thirty, Senate, Senate Intelligence Committee, Osama Bin Laden, CIA, Hollywood, Torture, Movies,

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, headed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has launched an investigation into the CIA’s involvement with the Osama bin Laden manhunt dramatization, “Zero Dark Thirty,” in an effort to determine what role government staffers had in a movie that politicians have sharply criticized as being “misleading” and “grossly inaccurate.”

Reuters broke the news last night, paraphrasing a source close to the Committee, which “will examine whether the spy agency gave the filmmakers ‘inappropriate’ access to secret material.” “They will also probe whether CIA personnel are responsible for the portrayal of harsh interrogation practices and in particular the suggestion that they were effective,” Reuters reported.

The investigation comes weeks after Feinstein, along with Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Carl Levin, D-Mich., wrote a letter to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton criticizing Kathryn Bigelow’s film:

Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.



CIA acting chief Michael Morell, one of the staffers who had previously spoken to Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, similarly blasted the film in an internal memo last month. ”CIA interacted with the filmmakers through our Office of Public Affairs,” he wrote, “but, as is true with any entertainment project with which we interact, we do not control the final product.” The film “creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false.”

According to the source, The Intelligence Committee will review the CIA’s uncensored records regarding the film, but will not contact the filmmakers directly.

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at pgupta@salon.com.

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